In 2016, Martha O’Donovan, a 25-year-old New York University graduate, moved to Zimbabwe.
She obtained a job with Magamba TV, situated in Harare. It’s a satirical comedy station, and O’Donovan was a supervisor and “media activist.”
Now, she’s in jail.
At problem: a tweet attacking Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. In it, the president is named a “sick and selfish man.”
The tweets come from the account of @matigary, who joined Twitter in February 2016. Zimbabwe authorities say they imagine O’Donovan is the creator of the tweet primarily based on her IP tackle. But O’Donovan has denied this, and @matigary has continued to tweet since O’Donovan was jailed.
She has been charged with subversion and trying to overthrow the Mugabe authorities. That cost carries a sentence of as much as 20 years in jail.
In a press release to the police, O’Donovan, who grew up in New Jersey, referred to as the allegations “baseless and malicious.” Her lawyer, Rose Hanzi, has argued that the cost is prohibited as a result of the police didn’t inform O’Donovan of it when she was taken from her dwelling Friday morning. Her bail listening to is about for Nov. 15.
The State Department says it’s conscious of O’Donovan’s scenario, however officers declined to remark additional.
O’Donovan’s arrest is the primary since Mugabe appointed a cybersecurity minister final month. When he was appointed, activists on social media apprehensive that he would goal them.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights say a minimum of 200 folks have been charged for allegedly insulting Mugabe lately.
“This arrest marks the start of a sinister new chapter in the Zimbabwean government’s clampdown on freedom of speech, and the new battleground is social media,” Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director, instructed the Associated Press.
Tongia Makawa, the station’s co-founder and mission supervisor, instructed BuzzFeed News that he and his colleagues are nonetheless in shock. “In all honesty, I think the only thing that’s separates her from the rest of the team is the fact that she’s a foreign national,” he mentioned.